Georgia-Azerbaijan: a Poor Friendship / News / News agency Inforos
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Georgia-Azerbaijan: a Poor Friendship

Prospects for a long-awaited lasting peace in the Caucasus are very delusive

Georgia-Azerbaijan: a Poor Friendship
Prospects for a long-awaited lasting peace in the Caucasus are very delusive. On the contrary, the situation in this region becomes complicated. This is evidenced by a recent statement by the Vice Speaker of the Georgian Parliament, Machavariani, made during his visit to Azerbaijan. According to Machavariani, Azerbaijan and Georgia must regain the lost territory and restore the territorial integrity of their countries. It is easy to understand what is behind this phrase. Azerbaijan must regain Nagorno-Karabakh, and Georgia - Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which have declared their independence after the Georgian aggression in 2008.

But the lost territories can only be regained by force. And Machavariani understands it well. It goes to show that his words are an open appeal for war, for revenge. Moreover, for the war, the flame of which will flare up throughout the Transcaucasus and will have, say the least of it, tragic consequences.

It must be said that the Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has repeatedly said that Azerbaijan will never accept the loss of Nagorno-Karabakh and will not recognize the self-proclaimed NKR (Nagorno-Karabakh Republic), and if necessary will use force to do so.

However, these words are not yet followed by specific dangerous acts. Aliyev is quite circumspect, he does not forget the bitter lessons of the war for Azerbaijan in the early 90s, and above all, he remembers that it was his father - the late President Heydar Aliyev – that had put an end to the war in Karabakh, calling it “madness”. So, the combative rhetoric, which from time to time Ilham Aliyev has recourse to, is rather dictated by the internal political situation in the country and seeks to reassure those who (repeating the opposition’s attacks on the president) think that he has accepted the loss of Nagorno-Karabakh and thereby betrays the interests of the country.

However, caution does not prevent Ilham Aliyev from being engaged in rapid rearmament of the army, improving its combat effectiveness, which during the war of the 90s years was a disaster. Now the Azerbaijani army gets modern aircrafts, tanks, and the best small arms. Instructors from Turkey, which has been already for a long time Azerbaijan’s number one ally, help to master this technical equipment.

By the way, in the doctrine of national security, recently published in Tbilisi, Turkey and Azerbaijan are called Georgia’s closest allies. This is certainly an exaggeration and a wishful thinking. Neither Baku nor Ankara consider Georgia their closest ally. It seems that even Washington patronizing the President Saakashvili (though not very much pleased recently with his actions) does not reckon him among its closest allies, but merely uses him in the game the United States is conducting in the Caucasus – a strategically important region rich in oil and gas (not available in Georgia, by the way).

The USA helps Georgia to rearm the army; American instructors train Georgian soldiers and officers in methods of modern warfare, but in case of Tbilisi’s attempt to provoke military conflict and to regain, as Machavariani said, the lost territories, Saakashvili will not be able to count on direct support of the United States, the U.S. direct military intervention – in case the development takes a strongarm way. Especially as both Abkhazia and South Ossetia are recognized by Russia as independent states, and so, Moscow is the guarantor of their security.

So what is the meaning of the statement made by Machavariani in Baku? The official Tbilisi is probably looking for allies who would help Georgia to get out of the political and military impasse, where it came to be after the failed venture in 2008. It is very difficult to find trustworthy allies after Georgia under the leadership of Saakashvili and on his initiative has committed wanton aggression and thereby discredited itself in the eyes of the world community. That is why Tbilisi is trying to make advances to Baku, counting on the “brotherhood in misfortune” - because you know, Azerbaijan also feels slighted by the loss of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The meaning of Machavariani's such words is the following: we are the two offended states, so we should be together, “hand in hand”, seeking a just solution to the problem of lost territories, and if we do not return them, we’ll have to fight.

In truth, the situation with Abkhazia and South Ossetia does not constitute any problem. Here everything is clear, as the saying goes, “the train is off”. The problem of Nagorno-Karabakh really exists; for many years, it has been the subject of negotiations between the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan (in recent years between Presidents Ilham Aliyev and Serge Sargsyan), through intermediary of Russia. True, “things are still where they started” - the desired compromise can not be found, but nevertheless the negotiation process is continuing, and therefore hope for a peaceful settlement, on mutually acceptable solution to the challenge remains.

So, Tbilisi’s attempt to make Baku its ally in the person of Machavariani, based on the thesis of “lost territories”, is as incorrect, as it is illogical. It is a poor friendship, and both sides seem to understand it well.
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